By: Angela Hadley
The holidays are upon us. Just like every year, I find myself caught off guard by how quickly the seasons change. We go from our little ones running around in shorts and a tee shirt to bundled up like Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
It’s so easy with the quick changing of the tide to find yourself scrambling to ensure a beautiful season for your little one. It is, after all, what makes the season magical. Moms and Dads that run around behind the scenes sprinkling in Christmas magic so our kids can feel the excitement of the season around every corner.
After the holidays have come and gone each year a part of me wonders where it all went? Between frantic shopping and running around to see various friends and family, our best selves and good intentions can get a little lost. What if instead of buying all those presents, we tried to truly become more present for ourselves and our little ones? What if we tried to help our kiddos understand that the meaning of the holidays, however you celebrate them, could center around generosity and kindness? How can we teach kids that it might end up being the best gift of all?
Books With Life Lessons About Giving
Nothing better helps me explain these concepts to my just-turned-5-year-old than books. What story better to show kids the idea of generosity and joy than The Rainbow Fish? This book by Marcus Pfister is such a classic. I remember loving it as a kid when my Mom would read it to me. The sparkly scales of the rainbow fish always caught my eye and to this day I still love the color palette of the book. All those deep blues, purples, and greens! But, what I didn’t realize when we would read this story on repeat is the important message behind the words. How kindness and generosity with the things we’ve been given provide a deeper sense of joy and happiness than keeping those gifts to ourselves.
Another great book to help you talk to and with your little about generosity is The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau. Similar to The Rainbow Fish, this story is about the healing and restorative power of giving. It shows us how even someone resistant to letting go of what they have can eventually be taught how kindness. We learn that generosity can truly transform our hearts, and can allow us to help others when we are actually healing and helping ourselves in the process.
After remembering these great stories from my childhood, I wanted to challenge myself to make sure I keep these concepts at the heart of my family’s holiday season this year. In looking for ways that would allow my son to be involved, I came across a generosity advent calendar. I absolutely love this concept.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good wine calendar or maybe some really good chocolates each day leading up to Christmas. But, what if every day in December we could check off an item that made someone else feel good? What if we, as both the rainbow fish and the king do, helped our kids discover the transformative power of giving in small tangible ways? What if we helped them understand what it means to be generous with what you have and how much that can mean to others? Well, as much as I love a good mini wine bottle, I will say kindness and generosity win every time.
Generosity Advent Calendar
If you love the idea as much as I do, I challenge you to add or replace, your normal calendar with a giving advent calendar this holiday season. There are many you can buy. You can even get the kiddos involved and make your own! This can give you the space to talk about kindness and giving and the kids can share their ideas of how that could look. For some starter ideas you could add:
- Donate socks to a homeless shelter
- Give a compliment to someone you don’t know (with Mom and Dad around of course)
- Make and hide kindness rocks
- Leave a happy note for someone to find
- Donate food to your local food bank or little food pantry
- Make a homemade gift
- Call a family member that lives far away to ask how they are doing
- Make a nice sign or set out snacks for your delivery drivers
- Take supplies to the local animal shelter
After getting your wheels turning, what will you add to your giving calendar? I hope that as you add items to your homemade chart, or begin checking off the days of December with an act of kindness, that you and your family can be reminded that we are our best selves when we can share what we have with others. I read something a while ago along the lines of, “when you have enough food at your table, build a longer table, not a higher wall.”
Let’s all work to lengthen our tables this holiday season! Let’s invite our little ones to share in the joy that spreading acts of kindness can bring, just like our friends Rainbow Fish and the king. I hope each and every one of you has an amazing season with your families!
Looking for ways to give back this holiday season? Check out our Secret Santa Society!